The man accusing former state Senate candidate Eric Bodenweiser of sexually abusing him 25 years ago ended his testimony June 6 after four days on the witness stand.
On the last day of testimony, the witness admitted that he had lied to police when he told them he did not know Bodenweiser’s estranged brother, Paul. The man, who claims Bodenweiser raped and sodomized him when he was 11 years old, told Delaware State Police Detective John King in an October 1, 2012 interview that he did not know who Paul Bodenweiser was.
However, defense attorney Joe Hurley produced emails between the victim, now 37 and living in Florida, and Paul Bodenweiser, who Hurley said hated his brother, from September 13, 2012, before the witness' interview with King. Hurley’s emails showed the victim had not only corresponded with Paul Bodenweiser, but he also received $100 from him, unsolicited.
When pressed about why the witness told King he did not know Paul Bodenweiser, the victim said Paul Bodenweiser told him not to talk to the police about their correspondence.
“You lied to police because Paul Bodenweiser told you to?” Hurley said.
At this point, the victim admitted he did not tell the complete truth to police.
Under questioning, the victim also said he was not truthful about where he had graduated from high school. The victim told King he graduated from Polytech High School, but Hurley produced records showing the victim graduated from James H. Groves High School.
Bodenweiser is accused of 14 counts of first-degree unlawful sexual intercourse and 14 counts of unlawful sexual contact. He faces mandatory 15-year jail sentences on each of the unlawful sexual intercourse charges.
The victim said on one occasion, he penetrated Bodenweiser but he did not mention this to prosecutors because he was embarrassed.
Hurley replied, “So it’s OK to swear on the Bible and lie if it is embarrassing?”
On redirect by prosecutor John Donahue, the victim said he had been forced to have oral sex with Bodenweiser more than 50 times, all while he was between the ages of 10 and 12. Donahue asked the victim if he had a record of each and every time he’d had oral sex with Bodenweiser.
“No. It’s been a long time,” the victim said.
Testimony gets personal
Hurley spent much of his questioning attacking the victim’s personal credibility. Hurley brought up the witness' guilty plea in Florida on charges he choked and intimidated his ex-wife. The victim said he had pleaded guilty to resolve the charges so he could be with his son.
“You pleaded to two charges you didn’t commit?” Hurley asked.
“Yes,” the victim said.
The victim said he had completed a rehabilitation program as a condition of probation, but Hurley produced court documents showing the victim had pleaded guilty to a parole violation in March 2013 and, on Feb. 8, was issued a warrant for violating probation. The victim said he had completed his probation requirements.
Hurley quipped that he looked forward to seeing the documents saying the victim completed his probation. At this point, Delaware Superior Court Judge E. Scott Bradley admonished Hurley.
“Stop editorializing,” Bradley said. “I’m tired of telling you. Stop it. Ask questions.”
Moving on, Hurley attacked a statement the victim made to King saying he did not use drugs. Hurley showed the victim's Facebook posts asking where he could find Molly, a synthetic version of Ecstasy.
The victim previously testified that after telling his parents about the abuse he says Bodenweiser inflicted, he made a promise to his parents not to talk about what happened. However, Hurley said, the victim had broken his promise, telling several people, including his ex-wife, his friend Amie Erickson and the judge in his Florida battery case. The victim said in his mind, he did not break his promise.
Hurley also questioned the victim’s motivation for coming forward. In his letter to the Florida judge in the battery case, the victim mentioned that the man who abused him was a prominent citizen and owned several convenience stores. Hurley wondered why the victim would point out such a thing, and asked the victim if he had been in contact with Dover attorney Stephen Hampton about a potential civil suit. The victim said yes, he had.
Hurley brought up the victim’s financial difficulties, saying he struggled to pay for his bus ticket to come from Florida to Delaware. Hurley insinuated that the victim was coming forward in an effort to get financial compensation from Bodenweiser.
The victim said he could not care less about money.
“So why get an attorney?” Hurley asked. “How did a guy with no money hire an attorney? What do you expect to get?”
The victim said he wanted to sue Bodenweiser and put his name out there as a child molester. He said he wanted an apology.
Hurley then read several Facebook messages from the victim’s ex-wife, Olivia, who is due to testify during the trial. The posts, Hurley said, show Olivia and the victim trying to coordinate their stories for the trial, with Olivia at one point saying “I can go full force for you. This is strictly business.”
The victim said this was a reference to Olivia not trying to interfere in his relationship with his new wife, to whom he’s been married for eight months.
Finally, Hurley recounted an incident in 1993, after the victim said he had ceased all contact with Bodenweiser. Hurley said the victim went to Bodie’s Dairy Market, owned by Bodenweiser’s family, and asked Bodenweiser about a job. The victim admitted he had gone there and briefly said hello.
Hurley began his cross-examination by pointing out an inconsistency in the victim’s story. On the stand and in an interview with prosecutors Donahue and David Hume, the victim said the first instance of abuse occurred when Bodenweiser forced him to have oral sex in Bodenweiser’s bathroom.
However, in the Oct.1 interview with King, the victim described mutual masturbation, not oral sex. When Hurley asked him if he remembered what he said June 2, the victim said he could not recall. Hurley asked how he couldn’t remember what he said Monday but could remember what happened 25 years ago. The victim agreed there was no oral sex in the first encounter.
The victim twice teared up on the stand; the first time came after Hurley questioned him about his mother, with who the victim has said he was very close. Hurley requested a break, later saying he felt sorry for the victim.
Hurley repeatedly questioned why the victim continuously went back to Bodenweiser’s house, even after being abused. The victim said he respected Bodenweiser, looking at him as a mentor. He said he hung around Bodenweiser to escape his home life with his alcoholic father.
“How could you respect someone who did something so vile?” Hurley asked.
“I ask myself that question every day,” the victim said.
Judge dismissed coaching allegation
The victim appeared and endured hours of questioning one day after no-showing what was to be his last day on the stand. No explanation was given in court about why the victim did not appear June 5; rumors flew that he’d been rushed to the hospital, but those rumors were not verified.
Day 6 of the trial started by wrapping up a hearing requested by Hurley, who alleged that Bodenweiser's accuser had been coached on his presentation on the witness stand. Hurley said once the witness takes the stand, he is told not to talk about his testimony because it could jeopardize Bodenweiser’s right to a fair trial.
Hurley grilled the victim on who he had talked to from the time cross-examination started June 3 to when questioning resumed June 4. The victim said his wife and King had tried to calm him down and help him compose himself after a heated exchange with Hurley.
Bradley said there was nothing to the hearing request. Bradley said he did not think the request was relevant to the facts of the case.
The trial will reconvene at 9 a.m., Tuesday, June 10.